Do you want to use your lifeline? Who would you like to call?
At the beginning of our marriage, we experience arguments, frustration, and discontent with each other. Wanting to keep our problems private, we only fought harder and was desperate for a way out. That’s when we reached out to our beloved pastor, friends, and mentors, Ed and Lorri Conover.
They not only counseled us in our marriage, but they helped us in our individual walk with God. You often hear us refer to them as our mentors, whom we deeply loved. They were our spiritual parents who treated us like their children. It amazed us how selflessly their seven children shared their parents with us!
Like our natural parents, we could call on them for anything at any time-day or night. It didn’t matter how juvenile the matters seemed; they were always there for us. Always pointing us to the Word, directing us to prayer, and most importantly making sure we were on the same page as husband and wife. In fact, they are the ones who taught us the principles of God’s priorities.
They cheered us on in life, in business, and in ministry. Then the unthinkable happened; they were diagnosed with cancer within a year of each other. And went home to be with the Lord three years apart of each other.
We didn’t just lose our pastor; we lost our spiritual parents, our mentors, our friends, and our dear brothers and sisters in Christ. In one sense, we felt like how can we move forward without them? They were always counseling, encouraging and leading us. And as much as we miss them, we realized that God had already prepared us for such a time as this.
The time they invested in us was for this moment in time. The time for us to: continue helping other marriages, encouraging others to live within the priorities of God and fulling the purpose God has for us.
The days and months have been heart wrenching without them, but that grief and pain we felt led us to rely on and trust God more. We learned to go to the throne instead of the phone. God became our biggest cheerleader, counselor, encourages, and comforter.
When we were first asked to serve as Pastors in our church after their home-going, we thought to ourselves; we can’t do this. But, we realized we were not following Ed and Lorri; we were following God. If God called us to serve, then we continue serve whether they’re here or not.
Months before their home-going, they spent days and weeks at the hospital, months out of church, and during that time God was preparing us. They were not as available as they use to be. And we had to start making decisions on our own; through prayer, fasting and seeking God for ourselves.
It became clear that, that time of preparation was necessary for us to move forward without falling apart upon their home going. In a time that we felt we couldn’t move forward; we knew that we could because we had learned to rely on God instead of them.
Since their home-going, we prayed that God would bring us new relationships that bring us strength and encouragement. We know that their relationship with us was one of a kind. There may never be anyone to fill the role they played in our lives. However, we have learned to find peace in knowing that God has given us all that we need and has divinely brought new relationships so that we have nothing missing and nothing lacking.
We had never experienced such true discipleship before, and we cannot stress enough how important it is to be discipled. We know the fear of letting your guard down and letting someone that close to your hearts. But, the growth, the love, and the change that comes from it, cannot be compared to anything else.
Jesus’s relationship with the disciples was the same way. Even in that relationship Jesus left them, and the disciples were left behind to continue their purpose. Entering that kind of relationship is a risk, but it can also be the most rewarding if you are willing to yield to process of discipleship!
“Where no wise guidance is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” ~ Proverbs 11:14 (AMPC)
André and Timberley Gray